Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva fundamental vow sutra

by Johnny Yu | 2005 | 21,827 words

The story of Ksitigarbha occurs in the Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva Purvapranidhana Sutra which is a popular Mahayana Sutra. This sutra is said to have been spoken by the Buddha towards the end of his life. Ksitigarbha is a bodhisattva primarily revered in East Asian Buddhism and usually depicted as a Buddhist monk. Original title of the text: Kᚣitig...

Chapter 13 - Entrusting [the Deliverance] of Humans and Devas

At that time, the World Honored One raised his golden colored arm and again touched Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva-Mahasattva's head.  The Buddha then said, "Ksitigarbha, Ksitigarbha, your divine power is [so mighty it is] unthinkable.  Your compassion is [so great that it is] incomprehensible.  Your wisdom is [so profound that it is] unimaginable.  Your eloquent speech [is so excellent that it is] inconceivable.  Even if all of the Buddhas of the Ten Directions praise and expound your inconceivable qualities, we cannot fully describe them in millions of kalpas.  Ksitigarbha, Ksitigarbha, remember that today in this gathering at Trayastrimsas Palace and before all of the inexpressible trillions of Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, eight classes of supernatural beings, I again entrust in your care all of the devas, humans and other sentient beings.  These sentient beings who have not yet broken away from the Trailokya are like children trapped in a burning house.  Do not let them fall into the suffering realms for even one day and night, not to mention Avici Hell, from which they will not be able to leave even after trillions of kalpas."

"Ksitigarbha, the sentient beings in Jambudvipa have capricious wills and natures.  The majority of them have evil tendencies.  Even if they resolve to be virtuous, it does not take long for them to regress back to their old ways.  If they encounter evil influences, their wickedness increases with each additional thought.  Because of this, I had manifested trillions of emanations to deliver them in accordance to their [different] temperaments."

"Ksitigarbha, today I earnestly entrust in your care all of the devas, humans and other sentient beings.  In the future, if there are devas, virtuous men or virtuous women who plant some virtuous roots in the Buddha-dharma, even if these roots are as small as a strand of hair, a speck of dust, a pebble of sand, or even a droplet of water, you must use your Dharma power to support these beings; thus, they will gradually cultivate the Supreme Bodhi.  Do not let them regress [from the path to Enlightenment]."

"Moreover, Ksitigarbha, in the future, the karmic retributions of devas or men may cause them to fall into the suffering realms.  Some may be on the verge of falling or have already fallen into these realms.  If these beings recite the name of [just] one Buddha or Bodhisattva, or recite [just] a stanza or a phrase from a Mahayana Sutra, use your divine power to facilitate their expeditious rescue.  Manifest your immeasurable body and deliver them from hells.  Enable them to be reborn in heaven to enjoy great blessings."

At that time, the World Honored One said these verses:

The present and future devas, humans and sentient beings
I earnestly entrust them to you
Use your great divine power to expediently rescue
Do not let them fall into various suffering realms.

At that time, Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva-Mahasattva knelt down on one knee with his palms joined and said to the Buddha, "World Honored One, do not have any concern.  In the future, if virtuous men or women have just one thought of respect for the Buddha-dharma, I shall use hundreds of thousands of expedient means to rescue them, so they shall quickly find deliverance from the cycle of life and death.  The benefits will be greater for those who, with every thought, diligently cultivate after learning various virtuous practices.  These people naturally will not regress from the supreme path of Enlightenment."

At the conclusion of these words, a Bodhisattva in the assembly named Akasagarbha said to the Buddha, "World Honored One, since my arrival at Trayastrimsas to now, I have heard the Tathagata's praise of Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva's unimaginable divine power.  For the sake of all of the present and future beings, I wish the World Honored One to briefly explain how many types of benefits can be gained by virtuous men and women, including all eight classes of supernatural beings, who hears this Sutra and Ksitigarbha's name, or respectfully gaze upon and pay homage to his statues."

The Buddha told Akasagarbha Bodhisattva, "Listen carefully, I shall explain it for you.  In the future, there may be virtuous men or women who see Ksitigarbha's images or hear this Sutra.  If they then chant this Sutra, make offerings of incense, flowers, food, clothings, jewels, say praises and pay homage, they shall attain twenty eight types of benefits."

  1. They shall be protected by eight classes of supernatural beings
  2. Their accumulated merits will increase daily
  3. They shall gather `Causes for their Enlightenment'
  4. They shall not regress from the path to Enlightenment
  5. Have abundance of food and clothings
  6. Do not suffer from illness
  7. Will not encounter flood or conflagration
  8. Will not be burglarized or robbed
  9. Respected by People
  10. Receive assistances from gods and ghosts
  11. Those who are female will be reborn as male
  12. Those who are reborn as female will be daughters of high-ranking officials
  13. Be reborn with good appearances
  14. Often reborn in heaven
  15. Or be reborn as kings
  16. Born with great wisdom and have detailed memories of previous lives
  17. Attain what they seek
  18. Loved-ones shall enjoy happiness
  19. All accidents are avoided
  20. Forever avoid the suffering realms
  21. Always arrive safely at their destinations
  22. Enjoy peace in sleep and dream
  23. Deceased relatives [who had fallen into suffering shall] leave suffering [realms]
  24. Reborn with great amounts of merit
  25. Praised by many holy beings
  26. Born with wisdom and sharp minds
  27. bsp; Have great compassion
  28. bsp; Ultimately attaining Buddhahood.

"Furthermore, Akasagarbha Bodhisattva, if any of the present and future eight classes of supernatural beings hear Ksitigarbha's name, pay homage to Ksitigarbha's images, or hear the Ksitigarbha Fundamental Vow Sutra and follow the instructions within the Sutra to say praise and pay homage, then they shall attain seven kinds of benefits."

  1. Expedient entry into the Four Holy Realms
  2. Negative karma is extinguished
  3. Often receive protection from many Buddhas
  4. Never regress from Bodhi
  5. Their endowed powers are amplified
  6. Possess knowledge of their past lives
  7. Ultimately achieve Buddhahood.

At that time, after hearing Shakyamuni Buddha praising and expounding all of Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva's unimaginable Divine Powers [and the inconceivable vow to rescue sentient beings], all of the attendees from the Ten Directions, including all of the inexpressible numbers of Buddhas, Bodhisattva-Mahasattvas, and eight classes of supernatural beings, exclaimed having never before heard such a sermon.  At that time in Trayastrimsas Heaven, immeasurable amounts of incense, flowers, heavenly clothing, and jewels rained down as offerings to Shakyamuni Buddha and Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva.  All of the beings in the gathering again gazed on and paid homage.  Then, they joined their palms and withdrew.

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